December 26, 2007 – Ed Bagley
Was It Really Written in 1692?
(Ed’s Note: When I first read “Desiderata” many years ago, I was struck by the simplicity and significance of its message. With all the hustle and bustle at Christmas, New Year’s and the holiday season, it seems more timely today than when it was supposedly written in 1692. Desiderata was thought to be found in Old Saint Paul’s Church in Baltimore (MD). Imagine penning this brilliant piece of writing and never being recognized for your thought or work. The author was apparently unknown. We have now learned that Desiderata was in fact written by Max Ehrmann in 1927. Check out Snopes.com for the full story. If you are wondering, desiderata is plural for desideratum (Latin), for something that is needed or wanted: integrity was a desideratum.)
Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.